The United Auto Workers (UAW) will dispatch national leaders to Delphi Corp. union locals countrywide as the it launches a weeklong effort to convince its members that a milestone wage and benefits deal struck Friday is their best recourse.
The presidents of several UAW locals, the top union officials at the plant level, are confident that their members will sign off on the deal, which offers workers from the former General Motors Corp. subsidiary a cash payout and other compensation in lieu of leaving the company or accepting lower wages. The pact, as the union sees it, would alleviate the condition of workers who are previously responsible for the integration of the Chevrolet Camaro fuel pressure gauge and other GM auto parts.
But with the hype that has surrounded Delphi since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy nearly two years ago, union representatives will spend days going over details with workers and responding to questions before bringing the pact to a vote. National UAW leaders from both Delphi and GM are expected to participate.
“This is orders of magnitude better than what Delphi first offered,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California-Berkeley. “There may be some angry workers out there, but the UAW members at Delphi know the score.”
Last Friday, UAW, Delphi and GM have reached a tentative agreement. After months of intense pressure and openly intimidating negotiations, the parties have arrived at a pact that includes a total payout of $105,000 over three years. It will be offered to about 4,000 of Delphi’s 17,000 UAW workers. In return, the workers’ pay will be cut from about $27 an hour to a maximum of $18.50 an hour by Oct. 1, according to a copy of the agreement posted online by a nonconformist union group. Additionally, supplemental and temporary employees who leave the company will get severance pay of $1,500 for every month worked, up to $40,000.
In a win for the UAW, Delphi would shutter four fewer plans than originally planned. The company plans to keep open plants in Grand Rapids; Kokomo, Ind.; and Lockport and Rochester in New York. Delphi plans to sell a plant in Adrian, along with the Saginaw Steering plant in Saginaw; its Sandusky, Ohio, factory and a plant in Cottondale, Ala. Three factories – Flint East, Saginaw Manufacturing and a site in Dayton, Ohio, will be turned over to GM or a third party designated by GM. At least ten factories will close. The pact was required to remove the risk of a strike at Delphi that would have avoided the negotiations and crippled GM.
If approved, the pact would allow Delphi to decrease its overhead considerably in a bid to rival lower-cost international suppliers. At one local, in Wyoming near Grand Rapids, UAW officials will hold three meetings with members throughout the week before calling for a vote Thursday. Local 651 in Flint have started discussing with members. Another Delphi unit in Oak Creek, Wis., where virtually all the workers are temporary hires signed on to replace retirees who left with last year’s mass buyout offer, will vote Wednesday.
Skip Dziedzic, the president of UAW Local 1866, which represents the workers in Oak Creek, said that many of the workers at the soon-to-be shuttered plant have been distraught in recent months as Delphi has begun removing equipment from the factory in preparation for the plant’s year-end closure. “A lot of folks didn’t think they were going to get anything, and now people are going to get opportunities they didn’t think they’d have,” Dziedzic added. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to vote yes.”